Thursday 22 February 2018

Pernod Ricard names new Irish Distillers boss as Jameson soars

Anna Malmhake is leaving Irish Distillers to take over at Absolut
Anna Malmhake is leaving Irish Distillers to take over at Absolut
John Mulligan

John Mulligan

The chief executive of Irish Distillers, Anna Malmhake, is to leave the post to become CEO of the Absolut vodka company.

The move is part of a major organisational change being implemented by Pernod Ricard, which owns both the companies.

Ms Malmhake will be succeeded by Jean-Christophe Coutures, who is currently chairman and CEO of Pernod Ricard Winemakers. The Irish Distillers boss was the marketing director at Absolut before she was appointed to the top role in Dublin in 2011.

Irish Distillers produces Jameson, sales of which soared during the first half of Pernod Ricard's financial year. The whiskey is one of the group's key brands.

Ms Malmhake said that Jameson sold 5m cases around the world in the last financial year, and that in the first half of the current financial year, it experienced volume growth of 8pc and value growth of 11pc. More than 50 markets are reporting double or triple-digit growth of the whiskey, with the top-performing markets being the United States, Russia and South Africa.

In terms of worldwide organic growth in the first half of the financial year, Jameson was the best performer of any of Pernod Ricard's top 14 brands, beating top names in the group's stable such as Glenlivet and Beefeater. Other Irish Distillers brands, including Midleton Very Rare and Redbreast, also performed very well.

"While we celebrate this global success, we are now more than ever focused on the challenges in our home market," said Ms Malmhake, who added that the current environment for indigenous producers is "very difficult".

"Irish Distillers is fully committed to tackling alcohol misuse. However, the current legislative proposals contained in the Alcohol Bill are a disproportionate and ineffective response and will have unintended consequences," she argued.

In the Irish market, sales of Pernod Ricard brands struggled in the first half, with sales volumes rising 1.1pc, and 2.2pc in value terms.

The organisational changes being implemented by Pernod Ricard include the appointment of the current boss of Absolut, Irishman Paul Duffy, as head of Pernod Ricard North America.

He was once the chief operating officer at Irish Distillers.

The company's Americas business is being split, and Mr Duffy, will run the unit that comprises the US and Canada. He was previously the Head of Pernod Ricard USA.

The Latin American operations that had been part of the Americas unit now will report to Pernod Ricard's Europe, Middle East and Africa unit.

Pernod Ricard sales rose 7pc to €4.95bn in the first half of its financial year, with organic sales growth of 3pc. Foreign exchange tailwinds boosted the reported figure.

Irish Independent

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